British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Courtenay-Comox riding profile

A look at Courtenay-Comox, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

It's one of 2 seats on Vancouver Island held by the Liberals, but they have a new candidate this time around

The riding includes all of Courtenay and Comox, along with Mt. Washington, Black Creek and Merville. (Elections B.C.)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Courtenay-Comox, one of 15 ridings on Vancouver Island — and a place where changes in the boundaries are likely to help the B.C. Liberals.

Summary: A mid-sized riding halfway up Vancouver Island, the riding formerly known as Comox Valley has shrunk in size as the Courtenay/Cumberland/Comox region has grown in population and lost Cumberland and Oyster River in the most recent redistribution.

Politics: The Comox-centred riding went to the NDP in six of seven elections between 1972 and 2001 but has since only elected B.C. Liberal candidates.

In the last three elections, the Liberals have defeated the NDP by less than 2,000 votes.

Candidates: With two-term MLA Don McRae choosing not to run again, the Liberals chose Jim Benninger, the former base commander of CFB Comox, to replace him. 

The NDP candidate is Ronna-Rae Leonard, a three-term Courtenay councillor, former environmental researcher and the federal party's 2011 candidate in Vancouver Island North. 

The Green Party candidate is Ernie Sellentin, an environmental consultant and project coordinator with the Coastal Invasive Plant Committee.

Where does the NDP do well? The NDP does best in Courtenay's town centre. It also did quite well in Cumberland, but that area was transferred to Mid Island-Pacific Rim in the redistribution.   

What about the Liberals? Broadly speaking, the Island Highway divides the riding, with areas to the east favouring the Liberals — particularly the homes that surround the Crown Isle golf course, where it isn't uncommon for the party to get over 75 per cent of the vote.